How Do People Think About the Supreme Court When They Care?
90 NYU Law Review Online 50 (April 2018)
6 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 13, 2018
This Essay — part of a symposium hosted by the Brennan Center at NYU Law School on the Trump Administration — responds to a new paper by political scientists James Gibson and Michael Nelson about public opinion related to courts in the Trump Era. Their essential finding is that various versions of criticisms of the Court made by President Donald J. Trump are not substantially undermining public support for the Court. This Reply questions how much this and related papers tell us about how people think about the Court when they actually care about the Court. This study and other important ones like it are measuring how people think about the Court when the policy implications of Court decisions are presented to subjects as relatively low. Their findings tell us a lot, but not everything. They do not tell us what happens when passions about the Court are high — precisely the moment when the Court could be at its greatest jeopardy and convincing people to believe in the Court for reasons independent of the policies it delivers is the hardest. We can have confidence about how people think about the Court when they do not care about it, but not how they think about it when they do.
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